Born in 1967 I grew up in Nashville Tennessee, son of a very musical father and a wonderfully artistic mother. That’s my brother Chris (now leader of the Hotfoot Specials Cajun band) in the foreground, our friend and the girl who bust my collar bone by sitting on me Susan Sayers and yep that’s me Wyatt Earp on the right hand side.
I’m proud to say that I started going to gigs early, the first was in 1969 the first Folklife Festival, I saw ~ Muddy Waters in Washington, I was two. Libba Cotton, the lady who wrote ‘freight train’ kept me occupied on the way. Dad had gone to the states out of a love of american traditional music in the early 60s and we will probably always be that rare English thing, a ‘folk family’ just not quite as well known as the Watersons or Coppers!
We moved to the UK when I was about 10 years old in ’76; my English father had fallen out of love with America as it changed from an age of as he saw it, of simpler innocence, to the place many of my family still call home.
Since then I have lived in Southern England, East Sussex to be exact, always obsessively listening to music, playing music, talking music, writing music and telling people to stop listening to ‘that shit’ and get down with some of the ‘good shit’.
At about 14-15 years of age I had my first taste of Jamaican music, a genre that would become an obsessive centre of my musical interests. Later I was mentored in the ways of Jamaican music by Ken Jones aka Charlie Reggae who remains a big influence on my musical life, as were/are friends Mike Hindle and Chris Edmondson and my partner Sue Heard.
I have played guitar and written songs since the age of 14 (I’m now 52), at one point was a member of a very well respected Morris Dancing side, South Downs. Lead, fronted and gigged with mildly notorious ‘local’ band the Purple Frizbeez. I have in the past authored a website all about Jamaican vocalist Johnny Clarke and with creative spar Ian Causer of House of Reggae fame also the acclaimed Jamaicanlabelart.com, a self explanatory place for visual indulgences!
I also hosted and produced the podcast Bigmikeydread Reggae Radio for some years, before shutting it down after a messy divorce, and then, starting it again in late 2018, at it’s height 20,000 listeners downloaded it, but I quit when I just couldn’t maintain the right energy for it. However the old addictions came back to haunt me and I couldn’t help but share my love for Jamaican music again. So have started it up again recently. No where nearly as many listeners now that podcasting is mainstream now, but I was there early on, before Rodigan, Letts or the fucking BBC. Pity they didn’t recognise the talent already out there, instead of pushing the same hackneyed crap again and again. (no Rodigan isn’t crap). I have plans for a new show, with a homely format where my partner Sue and I argue over music, and invite friends to come share their record collections, so watch this space!
I write, produce and engineer/mix my own music as Michael Cullen Murphy. I have for the last 3 years after nearly 7 years away been writing and recording. The English Folk guitarist Martin Simpson who is a family friend heard a song and told me to get on with writing, and when someone like him tells you you have some talent, it’s time to go get on with it… I occasionally put the work in progress up here > http://www.reverbnation.com/mikemurphy4
I have a B.A. Hons degree in Fine Art Printmaking from West Surrey College of Art and Design, and continue to be interested in Fine Art, though I don’t attempt to create anything anymore.
Ocassionally I sell records on Discogs and try desperately to collect more Jamaican music and stuff like U.S.A. R&B on 78rpm records. I have been particularly into UK Folk Rock and Folk Psych too of recent, enjoying filling up my Sandy Denny selection and listening to people like Karen Dalton for the first time. I have lectured in Jamaican popular music at Chichester University, contributed to the Rare Record Guide and Roots Knotty Roots, a guide to Jamaican single releases. I’ve worked as a sound engineer and (in the days of reel to reel) tape editor & have written about music for magazines and online publications and I enjoy writing… and I guess that’s why I started this Blog.
Four or so years ago I compiled from my own collection the double cd ‘Mento Not Calypso’ for Fantastic Voyage, a now defunct label. It did well and remains one of the best and most original compilations of early and super rare Jamaican music.
Day job . . . . I work as a Building Materials salesman and I’m very happily the Dad of an 11 year old son and the fiancee to partner Sue, who once had a large collection of UK & US 60s Garage and Psych. She’s been teaching me loads and introducing me to fabulous new genres of music, ……..
……… it’s an education and you never stop learning, or listening.